A ‘Proverbs 31’ Wife?

Today I decided to read Proverbs 31. (Note to self: Bad idea. The idea of a perfect wife like that makes big neon signs saying ‘FAILURE’ flash repeatedly before my eyes until I get dizzy or scream. Or both.)

You know those perfect wives? The ones that cook great meals every night (complete with dessert), keep their house perfectly clean, take care of their family (and everyone else), and somehow still have time to shave their legs and blow-dry their hair? The ones that make your toes curl with envy? Well, that’s the Proverbs 31 woman. (Proverbs 31:10-31, NIV) I’m not saying it’s not something to strive for, but man!

It starts off in verse 10 by describing her like this: ‘A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.’ I don’t know about you, but the whole ‘noble character’ thing has me beat! (And personally, if I had to pick between myself and rubies, I’d be going with the rubies!)

‘Her husband has full confidence in her, and lacks nothing of value.’ Hmm…I can think of a lot of ‘things of value’ that he doesn’t have – but I bought him golf clubs! That gives me a few brownie points, right?

‘She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.’ How many times I have been impatient, angry, and hurtful towards him. (See that ‘FAILURE’ sign flashing?)

‘She selects wool and flax, and works with eager hands.’ Aha! This I can do! I have that much wool it is verging on ridiculous! I crochet at every opportunity! And I just bought a sewing maching so I can do the mending. Pretty sure I’ve got this one under control!

‘She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.’ Well, the shops are ‘afar’ aren’t they? After all, 5 minutes is a long way! (Can anyone else hear her laughing at me?)

‘She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.’ Getting up while it’s still dark to make hubby’s lunch counts doesn’t it? So I’m doing alright with this one. Servants though? I had to laugh – if only I could afford such things!

‘She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.’ Considering I can’t afford to buy anything and currently have no earnings I’m pretty sure I failed this one as well!

‘She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.’ This is the part where I get to flex my muscles and take a bow right? Ok, so maybe I get half marks for trying on this one.

‘She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.’ Trading? Are you kidding? Who has time for that? And as for my lamp not going out at night, I’m usually half asleep by the time we sit down for dinner! Another fail!

‘In her hand she holds the distaff, and grasps the spindle with her fingers.’ The sewing machine and mending thing counts here right?

‘She opens her arms to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy.’ Wow. This one hit me hard. At the moment I’ve been so busy thinking of myself and trying to get everything done that I don’t think I’ve even thought of poor or needy people. That ‘FAILURE’ sign is flashing again.

‘When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.’ My poor husband is still going to work in shorts in the middle of winter because I haven’t taken the time to go get him long pants. Failure.

‘She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.’ Please tell me making a throw rug counts. And as for clothes, I’m pretty sure ‘fine linen and purple’ means she dresses up beautifully for her husband every day, always wears gorgeous underwear, and has the most attractive lingerie available. I don’t think I even brushed my hair yesterday, let alone got dressed up or had gorgeous underwear! Failed again!

‘Her husband is respected in the gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.’ Pretty sure people respect him, however I don’t think that counts as marks for me. (Except if I get points for picking an awesome guy!)

‘She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.’ I can use the mending and crocheting thing again can’t I? I have sold some crocheting! (Ok, 3 items. But that’s progress!)

‘She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.’ Last night I had fit of the giggles, flung myself on the bed, whacked my head on the laptop and ended with an explosive headache. Dignity and I do not belong in the same sentence! I can laugh though! (I’m pretty sure that’s not what it means but you’ve got to give me a little leeway!)

‘She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.’ I rang my mother in a panic over an exploded casserole – pretty sure I’m the one needing the instruction!

‘She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.’ I try with this one, really I do. I try to keep things clean, I make sure the bills are paid, I do the washing (except when I forget and my husband has no work clothes left!), and I cook (ok, so sometimes I fail miserably in that department, but hey, last night we even had apple crumble for dessert!). I even do dishes occasionally! But I know have been guilty of idleness many times. I think I qualify for half a point yes?

‘Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”’ Since the children aren’t old enough to answer for themselves yet, I’d just like to say they think I’m wonderful. (Or they will, whenever we actually have any!) My husband however, tells me I am beautiful and talented and a great cook (he may have forgotten the casserole incident!). I don’t think this counts as points for me, it just means my husband is on the verge of insanity!

‘Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.’ I’m sure I don’t ‘fear the Lord’ nearly enough, but I think this is another point for trying!

‘Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.’ Well, there she is. The perfect wife.

I don’t even need to add up my score to know that ‘FAILURE’ sign is well-deserved. You only have to look at the current state of my kitchen to know that! But you know what, I don’t care. I’m not perfect, but he chose me. He loves ME.

Perfection is a great ideal and maybe one day I will get there. But for now I’m content to be imperfect. I’m happy to just be ME. (Although time to shave my legs would be nice!)

‘It’s so loud, …

‘It’s so loud, I just can’t seem to slow this down
I need You more than ever now
Let the silence be the only sound

Your glory becomes the only thing I see,
Your beauty brings me to my knees,
The awe that You inspire in me
Makes me want to be still….’

Life at the moment is so busy, so loud. I am crowded by assignments and there is so much housework, cooking, dishes, washing, and ironing to be done every day. (Actually forget the ironing, I’ve given up on that!) Sometimes I feel like a huge failure as a wife. I am stressed wondering what will happen next year. And there are days when it all gets too much.

And I can’t get it to slow down. I can’t make assignments do themselves, I can’t abolish housework (unfortunately!), and cooking, dishes, washing, & ironing are all a part of life. (And this whole ‘wife’ business means all of it is doubled!)

But when it gets too overwhelming, when I can’t slow life down, I remember how much I need God. More so each day. His whisper reminds me that I need to ‘be still’ and focus on Him. And as I do, His glory really does become the only thing I see. So today instead of worrying, instead of trying to do it all on my own, I choose to be still. To kneel at His feet until He gives me strength to stand and get through this day.

Won’t you join me there?

Failure?

Yesterday I failed as a wife. I just knew that all I had to do for the day was grocery shopping and cleaning the outside of all the windows. This was easy! This I could do! So, I got my shopping list organised and then we were off. Yes, I asked my husband to come with me.

Like most men, he hates shopping. His only consolation is ‘driving’ the trolley at a rapid pace, narrowly avoiding people, other trolleys, and food displays while I watch in terror. It is really a great lesson in patience. You turn around to put something heavy in the trolley only to see it already blazing along halfway down the aisle! You suppress the urge to scream as it nearly runs over your toes every time you turn around. You start thinking of all the things you could have done with the years this is taking off your life. You spend the whole time in a panic and wonder why you let him have the trolley in the first place. And then later, when he insists on putting all the heavy stuff in the car, you remember. He is helping. Sometimes you just have to take deep breaths while he does it!

With the shopping home and unpacked, we went to Bunnings. If my husband ever goes missing this is the first stop on my search list. Men practically live in Bunnings. Personally, I have no idea why. I have been there many times and I just do not see the attraction. But my husband does, and as long as he does come home occasionally I don’t mind. I grabbed some seedlings and tried to decide on a pot for the beautiful rose he bought me last week, while he got some things for the bird aviary and work. And I discovered that no matter which store it is, men are always quicker. There were too many pots to decide! Eventually he came to find me, took one look at the pots, and said, ‘That one!’ How do men do that? (The rose is now happily installed in it’s new pot, and it looks great!)

Home again. I cleaned the windows while he mowed the lawn. When that was done we sat down together and watched the Formula One Australian Grand Prix. He loved it. I spent most of it getting a headache and trying to figure out who was who and what on earth was going on! But it was tolerable and all was going fine until I remembered that I was supposed to do something about dinner. Ugh, who wants dinner anyway? Quite frankly I didn’t feel like cooking, but we had had spaghetti on toast the night before so I couldn’t really do that again! We ended up with salad and fish that was a little more than slightly overcooked because I forgot about it. That was my first failure. But it is wonderful to have an appreciative husband. He pronounced it great and told me I was a wonderful wife while I muttered a few things under my breath that sounded like ‘yeah right’.

The next failure hit me when I was finally crawling into bed. My husband was getting his work clothes ready for the next morning as usual. Suddenly he turned to me and asked, ‘Where are my shorts?’ Oh. Shorts. I looked in the drawer. Not a single pair of work shorts to be seen. I was supposed to do a load of washing and I had forgotten. I had failed again. But his reaction was just a simple, ‘Oh that’s ok, I can wear some other shorts.’ Dear, patient man. (Someone remind me to purchase another 10 pairs or something!)

There have been many days when I feel like a failure as a wife. Sometimes my failures are real, sometimes they are the product of an emotional imagination. There are times when I refuse to believe my husband when he tells me I am doing just fine and he is proud of my efforts. But then I remember that failure is not how many times you fall down. Failure is staying there.

So today, I’m going to get back up. Will you?